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The role of teacher talk in creating learning opportunity in EFL classroom in the Libyan university context

The role of teacher talk in creating learning opportunity in EFL classroom in the Libyan university context
The role of teacher talk in creating learning opportunity in EFL classroom in the Libyan university context
Teacher talk as an area of research is less emphasised than the learner talk in the literature, because the focus in classroom interaction research has been on learner talk within a language learning acquisition framework. Teacher talk has been viewed as obstructing, or at least reducing opportunities for learner-learner interaction. In the teacher education literature, teacher talk, viewed from a quantity perspective, is presented as problematic. There is a considerable difference between language teaching practices and those employed when teaching other subjects, such as geography, physics. Teaching a foreign language involves complex and multi-layered issues, as it is both the aim and the means of the process, and so demands interactional competence and awareness. Therefore, instead of focusing on the quantity of teacher talk, this dissertation focuses on the quality, and how learning opportunities can emerge from the teacher talk, and the interaction around it, for students. With a focus on teacher talk, and drawing on the social-cultural theory of learning, this research investigates the nature of teacher-students’ interaction in English as a foreign language classrooms in the Libyan university context. Furthermore, the concept of learning opportunity has been used widely in the literature in an undefined way. Hence, throughout this research, I aim to consolidate and conceptualise the notion of learning opportunity as a cognitive interactional space for learning within effective social and emotional dimensions.

This is a qualitative discourse analysis study, and the data were collected through audio-recorded classroom interaction, recall questionnaires, focus groups and field notes. The analysis employs principles of conversation analysis (CA) approach, and some features of teacher talk that were used by Walsh (2002; 2006 and 2011) and Walsh and Li (2013) in their framework for investigating classroom discourse. A content analysis was carried out during the analysis process for looking at the questionnaire, focus group and field notes datasets. Overall, the study suggests that there is a relationship between the discourse features of teacher talk and the construction of learning opportunities by the students. However, this is not always the case as there is a number of examples in the data of this study confirm that with the same discourse features of teacher talk, for example, the extended wait-time, the students may choose not to be agentive or may not engage with the process of constructing the learning opportunity.

The study also reveals that engaging the learners in this kind of classroom talk where they have to think, reflect and interact might not be useful only for the students who participate in the interaction, but also for other listeners (learners) who were quiet and silent. In other words, it seems like some learners could profit from the interaction between the teacher and other students in the lesson without being verbally involved. In this case, it was not necessary for some students to take part in the verbal interaction (overt participation) to be successful in noticing recalling new learning items from the lesson.

The use of the first language (L1; in this study L1 is Arabic) was also found to play an important role as it served as an emotional mediating tool in constructing the learning opportunities. It was used for turning the students’ attention for something important regarding the assessment criteria when it needed by the teacher. It was also used for scaffolding and languaging. This study makes a contribution to enhancing our understanding of the complexity of the concept of learning opportunity, and the ways classroom interaction facilitates learning. The study also suggests teacher education programmes should raise teachers’ awareness of the ways their language use (including the use of L1) facilitates learning, as it has a direct effect on the construction of learning opportunities in EFL classrooms and an indirect effect on improving the quality of classroom life.
University of Southampton
Eshkal, Rima, Albarrani
b258e433-df75-4f2f-8921-5469db7e481d
Eshkal, Rima, Albarrani
b258e433-df75-4f2f-8921-5469db7e481d
Kiely, Richard
2321c0cb-faf6-41e2-b044-2c3933e93d6e
Porter, Alison
978474c5-8b0b-4dc6-8463-3fd68162d0cd

Eshkal, Rima, Albarrani (2019) The role of teacher talk in creating learning opportunity in EFL classroom in the Libyan university context. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 318pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Teacher talk as an area of research is less emphasised than the learner talk in the literature, because the focus in classroom interaction research has been on learner talk within a language learning acquisition framework. Teacher talk has been viewed as obstructing, or at least reducing opportunities for learner-learner interaction. In the teacher education literature, teacher talk, viewed from a quantity perspective, is presented as problematic. There is a considerable difference between language teaching practices and those employed when teaching other subjects, such as geography, physics. Teaching a foreign language involves complex and multi-layered issues, as it is both the aim and the means of the process, and so demands interactional competence and awareness. Therefore, instead of focusing on the quantity of teacher talk, this dissertation focuses on the quality, and how learning opportunities can emerge from the teacher talk, and the interaction around it, for students. With a focus on teacher talk, and drawing on the social-cultural theory of learning, this research investigates the nature of teacher-students’ interaction in English as a foreign language classrooms in the Libyan university context. Furthermore, the concept of learning opportunity has been used widely in the literature in an undefined way. Hence, throughout this research, I aim to consolidate and conceptualise the notion of learning opportunity as a cognitive interactional space for learning within effective social and emotional dimensions.

This is a qualitative discourse analysis study, and the data were collected through audio-recorded classroom interaction, recall questionnaires, focus groups and field notes. The analysis employs principles of conversation analysis (CA) approach, and some features of teacher talk that were used by Walsh (2002; 2006 and 2011) and Walsh and Li (2013) in their framework for investigating classroom discourse. A content analysis was carried out during the analysis process for looking at the questionnaire, focus group and field notes datasets. Overall, the study suggests that there is a relationship between the discourse features of teacher talk and the construction of learning opportunities by the students. However, this is not always the case as there is a number of examples in the data of this study confirm that with the same discourse features of teacher talk, for example, the extended wait-time, the students may choose not to be agentive or may not engage with the process of constructing the learning opportunity.

The study also reveals that engaging the learners in this kind of classroom talk where they have to think, reflect and interact might not be useful only for the students who participate in the interaction, but also for other listeners (learners) who were quiet and silent. In other words, it seems like some learners could profit from the interaction between the teacher and other students in the lesson without being verbally involved. In this case, it was not necessary for some students to take part in the verbal interaction (overt participation) to be successful in noticing recalling new learning items from the lesson.

The use of the first language (L1; in this study L1 is Arabic) was also found to play an important role as it served as an emotional mediating tool in constructing the learning opportunities. It was used for turning the students’ attention for something important regarding the assessment criteria when it needed by the teacher. It was also used for scaffolding and languaging. This study makes a contribution to enhancing our understanding of the complexity of the concept of learning opportunity, and the ways classroom interaction facilitates learning. The study also suggests teacher education programmes should raise teachers’ awareness of the ways their language use (including the use of L1) facilitates learning, as it has a direct effect on the construction of learning opportunities in EFL classrooms and an indirect effect on improving the quality of classroom life.

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Published date: April 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 433129
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/433129
PURE UUID: 77d47d67-6517-433b-b09c-f0d1b1588b96
ORCID for Alison Porter: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8462-1909

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 08 Aug 2019 16:30
Last modified: 09 Aug 2019 00:33

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Contributors

Author: Rima, Albarrani Eshkal
Thesis advisor: Richard Kiely
Thesis advisor: Alison Porter ORCID iD

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